Missions Training And Evaluation Before You Go

Missionaries who have it set in their heart they are going to the mission field are very anxious and can’t wait to get started. The excitement and willingness to serve is a good thing. Too often, this desire to get on the field quickly supersedes the wisdom of being properly prepared before a missionary leaves their home country.

A missionary should invest time and resources into training and evaluation before they start their missions service. The more a missionary knows about missions and the more he knows about himself the higher the probability for success.

Christian disciples are instructed in Scripture to self-evaluate their Christian journey and spiritual maturity. Scripture also teaches Christians to submit to evaluation by others (Lam 3:40; Ps 26:2, 139:23-24; Job 13:23). Frequently, others have a clearer, and unbiased assessment of us, than we do of ourselves. It is always healthy to invite fellow believers to speak into our life and tell us how they view our character and faith. Having an experienced missionary provide that input is even more valuable. Evaluation can be temporarily painful, but the maturing and sanctifying aspect of honest assessment holds many long-term benefits.

Some missionaries are sent from big mission sending agencies, while others are sent independently from their home church. Not every missionary has evaluative tools readily at their disposal, but there are plenty of independent Christian agencies out there which specialize in pre-field missionary evaluation.

There is an abundance of tools that can be used in the assessment of a missionary’s readiness for missions service. There are useful personality tests, theological and Bible exams, psychological evaluations, character assessments, and more. Trained and professional evaluators are worth the time and money needed to provide an honest, unbiased evaluation of how they see a missionary.

The ability to understand where we have deficiencies is a valuable tool. Doing it before a missionary is in the fishbowl of missions is imperative. Frequently we see ourselves differently than others see us. Being able to round the edges of our personality or work on change will reduce the probability of problems and increases our chance of success. Knowing our weak points before we jump into the pressure cooker of missions is a gift from God.

Christians are instructed by Scripture to joyfully receive training and instruction (Rom 15:4; 1 Tim 4:7-8; 2 Tim 3:16-17; Heb 5:11-14). The purpose of this training is to make us strong in the faith and to prepare us for the trials ahead. How much more valuable it is for a missionary to be trained properly before they depart to serve in a new culture, country, and language. The more a missionary prepares before they arrive on the mission field the better off they will be. No missionary has ever said, after arriving into to fulltime ministry, “I wish I hadn’t trained and prepared so much before I went into missions.”

Learning the language, culture, and history of your adopted culture is a must. Take formal language lessons before you arrive on your ministry sight and take more language lessons than you think you need. Learning about culture, traditions, and food before you arrive can help smooth out your learning curve and reduce many embarrassing moments. Showing your adopted culture, you love them enough to learn about their ways will say much about you.

Studying Scripture and reading classic missions biographies should be the cornerstone of any would-be missionary. Better learning the foundations of our faith can never steer a missionary wrong and should be paramount to other training. Learning how our missionary forefathers succeeded and failed is invaluable. Never discount the learning that comes from studying biblical and historical missionaries.

Before you leave for the mission field take courses on conflict resolution, leadership, counseling, basic medicine, cultural acquisition, church planting, and more. It is likely your adopted culture will not provide you as easy access to education, conferences, and training like you will find at home. Take advantage of the abundance of opportunities to better prepare yourself before you leave. Education and training that better prepares you for your ministry is time and money well spent.

Slow Down
Delaying your departure to the mission field to be better evaluated and trained for your ministry is smart. It is understandable and admirable to desire to rush into to missions. Before you leave, you are excited to serve God and get started on the new chapter of your life. There is no such thing as being too prepared to change cultures and become a missionary. Most missionaries overestimate their readiness for missions and get frustrated by the perceived bureaucratic delays of pre-field evaluation and training.

Absorb the wisdom of experienced and Godly evaluators and teachers and change your heart toward pre-field preparation. The investment of resources into preparation will better prepare a missionary for success and reduce the probability of major on-field problems. If God has called you to serve him in another culture devote yourself to being as ready as possible before you go. Trust in God and give yourself a better chance at bringing him glory on the mission field by participating in evaluation and training before you go.